Ambassador Richard’s Remarks at US Embassy Beirut’s Election Night Reception

Welcome everyone.  I’m so glad that you could join me tonight as we participate in one of the most important features of American democracy – the Presidential election.

Elections are about the future.  They are about weighing continuity versus change, and choosing leaders we believe will advocate for policies that will improve our lives.

We are blessed in the U.S. to have a long history of peaceful transition of power, of bringing new leaders in, as we thank our old leaders for their service.   And we remind ourselves, the day after the excitement, the passion, and the fervor of the campaign, that we are Americans.  And we are strongest when we join together, despite our differences, for the greater good.

Both of our countries have been focused on our Presidencies for the past two years.  I want to congratulate once again Lebanon’s new President, Michel Aoun, and the Lebanese people for their own peaceful transition of power.  We appreciate, as I know you do, how important this event was, especially given what is happening around the region.

This American election has drawn a lot of attention across the globe.  There are strong feelings about some of the policies that have been advanced by both candidates. Tonight, we will see the American people decide which candidate’s vision they want to follow. But what I’d like to highlight for our non-American audiences is the importance of process, and the importance of institutions.  Whether they like the winner or not, Americans have always had a deep respect for the structure of our government, for the balance of powers, which was conceptualized by our founding fathers some 240 years ago.

Americans believe passionately in the Constitution of the United States.  It is our faith in our democratic institutions that unites us.   Our strength as a nation is that our loyalty has been to a system of government, to institutions – and not simply to the individuals who have occupied the office.

Tonight we will watch the final act of the 58th election of a U.S. president.   Whichever candidate wins, we will have millions of Americans who will be happy with the results, and millions who will not.  That’s always true.  But as President Obama said last month, “One of the great things about America’s democracy is we have a vigorous, sometimes bitter, political contest.  And when it’s done, historically, regardless of party, the person who loses the election congratulates the winner, reaffirms our democracy, and we move forward.  That’s how democracy survives, because we recognize that there is something more important than any individual campaign — and that is making sure that the integrity and trust in our institutions sustains itself.”

Dear friends.  Nature renews itself every year in the spring.  Americans have a chance every four years to renew our government and our nation.  Thank you again for joining us tonight to observe that tradition in action.